The Memorial Plaque of Thomas McGarry and the H. M. S. Laurentic.
Thomas McGarry Memorial Plaque, Commonwealth War Graves Commission Certificate, Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll Record, British Commonwealth War Graves Registers, 1914-1918 Record.
Thomas McGarry was a fireman on board the H. M. S. Laurentic when it struck two mines off Lough Swilly, Donegal, on 25 Janaury 1917. McGarry along with 353 onboard were killed. Thomas McGarry's Memorial Plaque (also known as a Dead Man's Penny) was uncovered near a house on Clancy's Strand, Limerick, by a family member of this contributor. This story seeks to shed some light on Thomas McGarry through archival records related to this WW1 Memorial Plaque. The attached Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll record indicates McGarry had a wife named Delia, residing at 8, King's Island, Limerick City, near to where the memorial plaque was discovered. Searches for Thomas or Delia McGarry on the Irish National Archives 1901 and 1911 census have proved inconclusive. The SS Laurentic had a notable past before its sinking in WW1. It was built by Harland and Wolff in 1907, originally commisioned as the Alberta. Launched in 1908, the Laurentic served between Liverpool and Quebec, and was widely noted for it's fast speed, especially in the capture of the murderer Hawley Harvey Crippen. After the outbreak of WW1, the Laurentic was commisioned as a troop transport for the Canadian Expeditionary Force. On the 23 January 1917, the Laurentic departed Liverpool for Halifax, Nova Scotia, carrying 35 tons of gold ingots for the payment of munitions. The ship struck two mines on the night of 25 January 1917, and sunk in approx. 45 minutes. The freezing and stormy conditions resulted in many men succumbing to the elements in their lifeboats before being rescued. Much of the gold was salvaged after the sinking but some gold ingots remain under the sea bed today. It is hoped the story of Thomas McGarry and the H.M.S Laurnetic can be expanded on by this contribution to Europeana 1914-1918. Sources: Robert Guthrie, 'H.M.S Laurentic', North Irish Roots, Vol. 13, No. 1 (2002), pp. 22-25